Emma Krofcheck smiling and holding a puppy.


University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Emma grew up an hour south of Pittsburgh, PA, and has lived there all her life, currently attending college at the University of Pittsburgh. She enjoys art, paints in acrylics, and most recently has begun sewing projects in her free time. Emma’s younger sister is an architecture student who is extremely artistic. Perhaps their creativity can be credited to growing up around a grandmother who is an artists. The curious and inquisitive side of Emma comes out in her love for science, as she has as long as she can remember wanted to be a scientist.

“I had a rock collection with my mom as a little girl,” Emma shared. “And in elementary school I wanted to be a scientist because I thought those were the “smart” people.” She discovered astronomy during that time after watching a television special that left a huge impact on her.

This is Emma’s first REU. When she started college she noticed that science courses felt disconnected from people. She has long been interested in science education and how people interact, learn, self-identify, and reflect. The RIT REU work with Dr. Scott Franklin was of interest to her as it explored ought self, the sense of one should (“ought to”) do.

Emma noted that other physics REUs were focusing on astronomy or physics only, and she was interested in how physics students think they should be, or what they should be doing in coursework and teaching structures. To carry it a step further, she is interested in whether or not students are aware of the influencers that shape their way of thinking.

Her research this summer in large is spent reflecting on her own experiences, pressures around her, influences on decisions she’s made, and what she learns by talking with other physics students and peers both during this REU and with classmates at Pittsburgh.

Through interview transcripts, supplied by Kansas State University, Emma is identifying relevant phrases or quotes from students. She is pulling data together on what students think they should do in their career choices, college courses they should take and pertinent research based on ought self. She is also gathering data on the power of  comparison of one’s self to one’s physics peers.